A few years removed from a horrifying ordeal as a slave in Los Angeles, and armed with a PhD in French Literature from UCLA, Dr. Marie Paquim, actress, writer, and CEO of Santa Monica-based Utopia Lumiere Films, shows a resilience that can come from near-tragedy.
Her upcoming screenplay “Land of the Free, Except for Me” is based in part on her own experience in captivity, and is a remarkable feat in itself.
First, the FBI had to give her special permission even talk about herself.
“It was a huge document,” Paquim said, of the approximately 50 pages she had to sign.
Her journey from child star in Europe, to captivity in America, and now film producing, could be its own movie.
But for Paquim, her focus is on sharing her story for the purpose of raising awareness on the alarming rise of slavery in the world. Her latest, stark statistics from federal law enforcement: 31 million slaves worldwide, $32 billion in profits, and here in America, the second black market.
Yet Americans familiar with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation find it hard to believe that slavery still exists.
“It’s interesting to see people’s faces,” she said. “Like, ‘are you kidding me?’”
But the difference between civil war-era slavery and today’s human trafficking, she said “It’s invisible, without chains.”
“It can be in your neighborhood, down the street at the hair salon, or the spa,” she said. “They’re working for free. But they smile at you, because they’re afraid.”
RYOT NOTE: Marie’s story is a truly amazing one that everyone should get to experience. But producing and distributing a film is no easy task. You can help her out by donating today, or by sharing this story.